Jex Wilson, the 1989 & 1997 PGA Tennessee Section Bill Strausbaugh Award Recipient, 1990 Section Golf Professional of the Year, and 2018 Section Youth Player Development Award Recipient, is a Past President of the PGA Tennessee Section, a 2015 Recipient of the PGA Tennessee Section Distinguished Career Award, and the PGA Director of Instruction and Youth Player Development at Old Fort Golf Club, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Jex Wilson on the importance of implementing a winter youth program:
When it comes to youth golf, it is important to provide as many learning opportunities as possible, engaging them virtually year-round to promote greater improvement and fun, as well as the camaraderie that is derived from a shared task like learning the game of golf. Back in 2015, we implemented a winter program at Old Fort Golf Club that provides structured coaching, practice, and training, and supplements the programs on our instruction calendar during the rest of the year. Partnering with a local Christian school, we utilize their state-of-the-art facilities and focus on swing techniques, fitness, short game proficiency, and the Rules of Golf. We have offered many years of youth instruction from spring to fall, starting with an intro to golf program, incrementally increasing the intensity and detail of the instruction as the kids grow and mature in and out of the game. Once they get to middle and high school age, they are primed to continue their efforts during the winter as well. They sign up in early January and we get going a week or two later, meeting for two hours every Saturday until the April Tennessee weather welcomes us outdoors to test the skills attained and honed during the cold, post-holiday months. Using BlastMotion and Swingbyte technology, we help our young, but dedicated students build upon the lessons and practice of the previous season, as they prepare for the spring and summer competitions and tournaments that await them. We limit participation to twenty students per winter, with ages ranging from 9-13 (the older students start pursuing private instruction as they ready for high school, and potentially college golf).
Jex Wilson on the business impact of implementing a winter youth program:
The benefits of hosting a winter program are both immediate and long-term. Our students have a venue in which they remain engaged and focused on improving their golf skills. They are dedicated and committed to playing golf into their higher education years. They are also totally prepared for their PGA Junior League matches, which start soon after the weather gets warm and comfortable. This provides a big advantage over those individuals who may store their clubs in the basement until spring. We ensure our pricing structure is very affordable so the kids who want to commit to golf have the means to do so, without the barrier of cost that often hinders opportunity. The winter program also serves as a feeder system for our larger, broader season-long youth program, building a network of youth golfers, playing competitively at their young age, preparing for school competition in their immediate future, as well as a lifetime of golf that awaits.
If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email Jexpga@aol.com